Mysteries of Cognition

My friend Eric P made a comment in my Time Travel post today:

This kind of time travel is indeed one of the great consequences of popular culture, especially in the digital age.  That a time, even a particular vivid moment in my past, can be trapped like a bug in amber by its association with a certain song, and then released as if alive in the present day by the return of that song–that is a marvel.  It keeps me from playing certain songs too often, lest the trapped aura get hazy with overhearing, or the moment get mixed and weakened by association with a different time and place.

This comment rang powerful to me. I have made it to myself and to many others often before. Songs transport me and the sensory associations of music and auditory stimuli in general are powerful mnemonic devices. In the past when I had long commutes to work, I would always listen to self-improvement tapes while driving. Denis Waitley’s “The Psychology of Winning” was one of my favorites in the 1985 timeframe. Another was the audio magazine called “Insight” by Earl Nightingale during the same era. Priceless. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I can take a random Earl Nightingale Insight cassette out of the shoebox where I still keep them, stick it in a tape player, and certain passages, as I listen to them, bring back the pictures of exactly where I was driving 25 years ago listening to that passage for the first time. I see the signs, I recognize the season, I remember the weather, I feel the bend in the road.

Yet, ask me what I had for dinner yesterday.

Over the years, being intensely interested in this subject,  I have tried to come up with ideas on how to leverage this marvelous human ability to associate reality with music in some permanent way and make something useful out of it. Alas, I have not had that Eureka moment, because if I had, I’d be working on that now.

I have always marveled about cognition. When I was young I wanted to get into the brain – computer – cognition field, whatever that is, but I missed that boat and became a mere computer programmer. I am honored to have a good friend, Peter S, who became a renowned professor in the field. Check his list of publications from the link on the site and you get the idea.

I have to ask him about this. Maybe I’ll send him this link.

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